Study Looks Into Flu Shot Effectiveness

Posted at: 10/15/2012 6:34 PM
By: Brittany Lewis

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Flu season is here. The first case in Olmsted County was reported last week. But new Monday, a study done by the University of Minnesota found vaccines for the flu could be improved.

Researchers announced their findings during a news conference Monday morning.

"The current influenza vaccine protection is substantially lower than for most routine recommend vaccines and is sub-optimal," said Michael Osterholm, Director of CIDRAP.

The study looked at 12,000 documents dating back to 1936 and conducted interviews with close to 100 experts.

"The perception that current vaccines are already highly effective in preventing influenza is a major barrier to pursuing game-changing alternatives," added Osterholm.

However, the study did point out that during flu season, those who get the flu shot are better off than those who don't.

"It's clear that influenza vaccination offers substantially more protection for the population then being unvaccinated, that's why I've got my flu shot for this year," he said.

Dr. Gregory Poland of Mayo Clinic says the study is less for individuals and more for government and policy makers.

"What the authors are saying is that they're fearful that there is complacency in the system and that people think that the efficacy of the vaccine is higher than it is, therefore they're not motivated to invest, and this will be billions, to invest the billions we need to get the vaccines," he said.

But he says recommending improvements to vaccines, is nothing new.

"Urging them to do what all of us already feel and many of 'em, myself included have published and that's we need better vaccines, we need better and better vaccines and soon as we have the next better vaccine, we'll be calling for the next better one after that," said Poland.

And they'll continue to urge for a better flu vaccine.

The Minnesota Department of Health says the flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over 6 months. If you don't like shots, nasal sprays are available.